Quick Tip: Date Checking and Coordinating With Wolfram|Alpha

One of my responsibilities at work is keeping up with the various computers we use across several different locations. Among the things that has to be monitored is the expiration date of antivirus software installed on the machines. Getting this information together would have been a lot tougher if it wasn’t for Wolfram|Alpha.

Some antivirus products provide a full date of when a subscription is going to expire. Some products, however, just provide a countdown — 99 days left, for example. Wolfram|Alpha makes it easy to calculate dates based on a number of days left.

The query 99 days from today — or yesterday, or tomorrow — will give you a future date and information on that date, including phase of the moon. I didn’t need that in this case, but having a solid date for antivirus expirations let me put them on a list and create a series of reminders for my calendar.

(Would you ever need phase of the moon information? Say you are bitten by a werewolf. You will need to know how many days there are until the next full moon. The query days until the next full moon will give you an answer. On the other hand, maybe you took some instant werewolf time-release capsules and they won’t kick in until 15 days after the next full moon. You can ask 15 days after the next full moon and get a result.)

Back to computers. Most of the computers in our system are Windows XP. I know that support for Windows XP SP 3 will expire on April 8, 2014. I can go to Wolfram|Alpha and ask days until April 8, 2014 and get a day count. That’s interesting to know, but not useful until it gets a little closer to the expiration date for Windows XP report. However I can also do a search for 90 days before April 8, 2014 in order to create an outline of steps I will have to take before the expiration of the support.

Of course, I might need to work these dates into my own schedule of working with my computer-wrangling team. I might contact my team on the same day each week — say, Monday. If 90 days before an important date is a Wednesday, I’ll have to either move the contact date or contact my team on a non-usual day. If I want to keep my team contact consistent, I can run the search First Monday after 90 days before April 8, 2014 — or 60 days, or 30 days — and get all my dates as Mondays.

I know I have written about Wolfram|Alpha’s date functions before, but the features here have proved so useful to me in organizing my computer-tracking activities that I wanted to mention them again.

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